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I’m THAT Mom Are you?

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Let me tell you about my week. Monday & Tuesday it snowed. It snowed enough that school was cancelled on both of those days. I was glad though because the kids & I had hoped for snow & this was the first real snow. Also, now that my daughter is in kindergarten, I see her less. When I do see her, we are either rushing around or getting homework done. It’s rare to have time to just BE with her; to hear her heart & just play.

However,

This meant that we got homework later in the week & believe it or not, in kindergarten, she gets a lot.  We did 2 pages of the homework the first night we got it. Then, Thursday night, my daughter was performing at a basketball game. She did some cheers & a cute little dance. She was fearless & sassy & it was so great, but it was something. We were busy. We got home just in time to get her ready for bed. We got up this morning & I realized that we had a WEEK of subtraction to accomplish!

I want you to understand now, I am the mom who is always running late. It is all I can do to get my daughter to school by 8am. Did I mention she has a 3 1/2 year old brother who is a wild maniac of a boy? Sweet as can be, but CRAZY. I am not one of those moms who is good at managing little kids on their way out the door. I’m the one who at some point in the chaos, freaks out on them with:  “Why can’t you just put on your shoes?!? Ahhhhh!” or “You have been in here 10 minutes, your teeth are not brushed. What in the WORLD are you doing in here?!? (She had been singing to herself in the mirror & practicing faces while she says certain phrases. Of course she is, right? Girls! I did the same thing when I was little. My poor mama).

So, at the thought of completing about 10 pages of subtraction at the kitchen table before getting to school, here’s what I decided to do: JUST PLOW THROUGH. That’s what we did. We just plowed through the work at the table while her little brother was running through the house like a monkey let loose from the zoo. It was getting closer & closer to 8 & I understood that 1 of 2 things were going to happen:

1) We were not going to finish the homework

2) We were going to be late

As a mom, what would you choose? I wasn’t sure what the best decision was. Also, I don’t know what your kid’s school is like, but when you take your child late to school at my daughter’s school, they ask you, “Why is she late?” Then you get to feel like the world’s worst mom & say something like, “I’m a mess. I don’t have it all together. I can hardly manage these 2 in the morning. Somebody HELP!!” Ok, that’s not really what I say, but that’s what I mean in that moment. What I really say is something like, “Hard getting these 2 out the door.” Then I smile at the office lady with a smile that begs for GRACE & understanding. This is hard right? Am i the only one? The WORST one? Sometimes it feels like that &, in those moments, I could really use a hug, some grace & some understanding.

Even if It is just hard for me & I’m the worst one, I love these kids so much & I try really hard to make the best choices for them. I care about the school & it’s rules. I know I am THAT mom, but I’m also this mom:

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Easy Heart Crayon Valentines & Printable

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I don’t know what kind of valentines you’re making at your house, but here is one more idea from us at Oh Baby Foods. If you’re like us, you have a million gazillion old broken crayons that your kids no longer like to use. We love the idea of re-using things. That’s why we love this DIY valentine.

– – –

Here’s what you need: 

Old broken crayons (or new ones you can break up)

A heart tin or silicone bakeware.

Double-sided mounting tape.

White (or light) card stock paper.

– – – –

So, preheat your oven to 250. Then, gather up your crayons & sort them by color.

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Load them into your bakeware. Break them up smaller if need be (your kids will love to help you do this!)

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Cook for about 15 minutes. Your crayon pieces will have melted & you should be able to take a plastic knife (or some other object that you don’t mind getting wax on) to make a swirly design in your crayons as they cool (about 10 minutes).
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Finished crayons! You should be able to just pop them out if they’re cool enough or are using silicone. If you’re using something else, you may want to run the pan under cold water to help them pop out better.

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Now, we wanted it to be super duper easy for you, so we also made a printable; valentines to stick your heart crayons to! We recommend that you print them on card stock paper, so they’ll be sturdy. Just save the picture below & print.crayon valentines, heart crayons, oh baby foods

We used double-sided mounting tape to attach the crayons to the valentines. Glue dots & tape were not strong enough.

Here’s what we ended up with:

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Have a the Happiest Valentine’s Day.

A Healthier Valentine

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Pinterest is full of all sorts of great homemade valentine ideas. We wanted to offer a healthier option & provide you with some printables. Just save the pictures & print them out (on card stock for best results).  Use a hole punch where you see the little black dots. You can then run a ribbon or string through there to attach to your pouches!

These are made to go with our pinkish Lavenberry pouches, but we’ll include some blank ones, so you can write your own & a sheet of generic valentine phrases you could use as well. ENJOY!Lavenberry, Oh Baby Foods, baby food, valentines, DIY, homemade

 

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Clean Eating with Children

clean eating

I asked my friend Amy, “How do you eat clean with children?” Here’s what she had to say:
– – –
Healthy eating can be tricky with children if not down right gravity defying. If it wasn’t important we wouldn’t all be trying so hard to do it. Am I right?? Or am I right? Right? Right?? (sorry, just watched Groundhog Day.) Over the years, I’ve had lots of success and lots of super frustrated (read tearful) dinners. Here are some of the things I’ve learned:

Make it normal.
This is not a veggie smoothie with kale hidden inside. I know many have success with the sauce-of-many-colors, but for me, I am more of a “This is kale. It’s good for you. Eat it”. Now, for the youngsters, it was a little dicey; maybe only a few bites at first (I’ll get to my secret weapon later). They now eat kale and, although they love their potatoes, they will eat it without complaint.

Another thing that I’ve done successfully is teaching my children about food: Where does it come from? Why do we want to eat it? (Especially vs other foods that they may be asking for ). It’s been a great success for us as a family. Even with our meat. What is this meat? What animal does it come from? What does this animal eat? etc.

So, you ready for a small secret weapon I love? Chocolate covered bananas. We have made frozen chocolate covered bananas for a long while. We also buy them from trader joes. Two little slices of frozen banana delight has staved off many a dinner time fiasco. Believe me.

Tips for Eating Clean

 

fran free, oh baby foods, clean eating, organic, nongmoThe topic of clean eating is a hot one. We want to offer the best possible nutrition for our family, but it can be complicated & we’re busy. Wouldn’t it be nice to have some tips from a pro? That’s exactly why I interviewed Fran Free, the owner of Oh Baby Foods, to get her tips on eating clean.

1) What advice do you have for someone who is just starting to learn about eating clean?

When I think about “clean” eating, I think about food on a very basic level. I envision a sweet potato. It’s whole, it’s bright orange (which means its chock full o’ vitamins), and its pretty delicious. Step 1): Take that ingredient and think about the different shapes you can make it. Step 2): Think about lightly spicing it up. Step 3): Think about the different ways to cook/prepare it. Now, with each of those steps envision those nutrients and how your body needs them; think about how to preserve them, make them fun and beautiful, and use them to their full potential. Keep in mind nutrition and aesthetics.

For example, a sweet potato.

Step 1): cut it into sweet potato fries

Step 2): toss with coconut oil and herbs (like rosemary) and a touch of salt

Step 3): bake them in the oven.

Another example, green beans.

Step 1): wash and snap off the ends,

Step 2): toss with olive oil and herbs (like dill or mint) and a touch of salt

Step 3): steam them.

Another example, snack time for kids. Step 1) cube some organic cheese, half some strawberries, Step 2): congrats, just skip this step, and Step 3): stack them on a skewer for the kids to eat immediately (or later).

2) What tips have you learned that make it easier on a mom of young children?

Focus on the fun shapes! We don’t make separate meals for kids and adults at our house. We all eat the same things. Sometimes fun shapes are needed to get over that hump of trying something new or when we sit down with kids who have skipped nap time or are feeling particularly cranky. It’s amazing what happens to a full plate of food when you cut it up and stick it all on skewers. I also use little flags and umbrellas.

3) What are some ways to save money on the higher priced items?

Three things:

(1) Buy in bulk when it’s available.

(2) Go for the organic whole chicken and make several meals out of it. We get up to four family meals out of it, ending with bone broth soup, which keeps us healthy in the winter.

(3) Also, shop by the EWG’s Clean Fifteen and Dirty Dozen. You may be spending more money on something that is organic, when its not a crop that really requires a lot of fertilizers or pesticides or who’s seed is even developed as a GMO, such as an avocado or many herbs. You may also be buying something that is not organic, that you really really really should. Strawberries, peaches, and spinach are examples.

4) Where do you go for clean recipes?

Eating is a job that involves the whole body, especially the eyes. I’m not making anything unless it’s pretty, so I spend time on Google images and Pinterest.I rely on Martha Stewart for basic foundational recipes, but often substitute the empty calorie ingredients for more nutrient-dense ingredients. I love Tasting Table for when I have extra time and need a creativity outlet, usually for date night with my hubby. Don’t go there looking for healthy recipes, but rather fun and clean, with whole foods.

5) Any tips for kid-friendly clean eating?

Again, go for fun shapes, flags, skewers, anything that turns a normal meal into an impromptu festival where utensils aren’t allowed. We use basic, minimally-cooked whole foods, and add herbs for taste. We stay away from hot spice with our kids, but they love complex flavors as long as they recognize the main ingredient. My two most-used pieces of kitchen equipment are the food processor (to hide sautéed kale and mushrooms) and mini-muffin tins (we make “poppers” out of sautéed veggies, leftover rice, chicken bone broth, pureed butternut squash, etc).

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Great tips! Hope these serve as a good start. We’re love to hear from you! What tips do you have? What works?

If You Only Do Four Things

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This one life we have goes by too quickly. Our life gets filled up with papers, appointments, meetings, obligations, bills, stress, so much. We struggle to find peace & balance; quiet & stillness in the chaos. Let’s make things less complicated, ok?

Just stop.  Put down everything & let’s get back to the essential, life-giving things.

With that in mind, I propose some simplification. If you can only do four things for yourself as a mom to keep balance; to keep from running yourself into the ground with all of the crazy…make sure you do these 4 things:

#1: REST, get sleep, nap, pause for peace. Give yourself the chance to be refreshed, if only for a few moments. Take the chance to rest when you have it.

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#2: EAT CLEAN. Eat foods that bring nourishment to your tired mama body. Hydrate. Choose organic, non-GMO, locally grown foods. Strong body. Energetic mama.CLEAN EATING, ORGANIC, NONGMO, GMOS, HEALTHY, MOMS, OH BABY FOODS

 

#3: GET OUTSIDE:

 Even it means, strapping the baby on your back, get out there and enjoy the beauty that is our world. It’s like vitamins to your soul. You need this.

OUTSIDE, get outside, oh baby foods, organic, moms, get out

#4: HAVE FUN: LOVE your life & play.  Really! Get together with your friends, have date nights with your partner, get SILLY with your kids! LAUGHTER is the best medicine & all that. Don’t waste precious moments by stressing & busy-ness. Be present in your own life.

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Gifts for Toddlers You Can Make Yourself

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If you’re like us, you MIGHT get a wild hair the week before Christmas & decide you’re going to make something for your children for Christmas.  So, if that’s the case, we’ve rounded up some really cute, fun & fairly easy ideas.

1) Travel Art Folio

We actually have one of these & it’s super helpful when you’re at a restaurant, on a plane or need to take your littles somewhere they might get bored. Click on the picture to check out the tutorial.

kids, toddlers, handmade, christmas

Lots of Pink Here!

2) Snowflake Frozen-esque Ornament

If you didn’t want it to be an ornament, you could attach it to her stocking, to a present, to a pillow or add it to a hat, backpack, bow or shirt.  The possibilities are endless!

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Disney Family

3) Photo book

Love this idea!  If you have time, totally consider making one of these. Fun keepsake as well!

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Joyful Abode

4) Their very own garden

I am actually going to make this for my kids because it’s so awesome.  They need it.  So so precious.

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A Beautiful Mess

5) Personalized Board Book

This is similar to the idea above, but it’s a fun reuse of an old board book. Such a cute idea.

book

6)  Hand-sewn Matching Game

I love this idea.  It would be pretty easy to whip up if you’re handy with a sewing machine.  You could even do a felt & yarn version of that worked better for you.  Lots of different ways you take it.

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The Purl Bee

Whatever you decide to do, hope you have the merriest of Christmas seasons!christmas, babies, oh baby foods

Oh Baby Foods Frozen Fruit Drops for Your Little Teether

 

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If you have a teether at home right now, than you know it can be challenging to find something to soothe those sore gums. In our house, we have tried to stay away from pain medicine when we could.  So, we looked for other options like frozen teething toys, homeopathic teething gel & tablets, or a frozen rag to chew on. There are so many neat ideas out there to try!

We had some customers, Dave & Tami Marks, contact us the other day with this sweet way they were using our purées as a little teething soother & yummy treat for their little one.

Here’s a fun option at mealtime for your little one: Oh Baby Foods Frozen Fruit Drops. The best possible nutrition outside of breast milk. Non-GMO, certified organic, US grown goodness. So simple to make, too! So simple to make, too. Just squeeze little dime-sized drops of our purées onto your parchment lined baking sheet. Once you have filled it up, put the pan in the freezer until solid.

This what they look like when you take them out:

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You can store them in a container in your freezer & use them as you need them!

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Kid approved!

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Thankful Tom the Turkey Game

 

THANKFUL, THANKSGIVING, KIDS, TODDLERS, GAME

If you’re like us, we are always looking for a way to teach our children about what it means to be grateful; thankful. Thanksgiving serves as a reminder to pass this value onto our children & cultivate it our own lives as well.

We wanted to think of some way to do this Thanksgiving.  We wanted to do something to make it fun to learn, as a family, to be thankful. We came up with Thankful Tom the Turkey Game & we wanted to share that with you.

Here’s what you need:

 

thanksgiving, game, kids,

You can:

Print out this turkey, trace him & this feather stencil & cut them out from colored construction paper. Maybe add some googly eyes.

thankful, thanksgiving, kids, game

Or you can print these full color leaves to use as feathers. You could also use actual leaves, or feathers for your turkey.

 

thankful, thanksgiving, kids, game

Glue or tape your turkey to the front of your brown tissue box (you can buy a brown one or just paint whatever box you have). Then, fan the feather/leaves and tape them to the back of your box.

Next, print these cards out (use cardstock for sturdier cards):

thankful, thanksgiving, kids, game

 

How to play:

Everyone gets a card.  Each person writes what they’re thankful for & puts it in the turkey box.  Once, everyone has had a chance to do it, each person takes one out of the box & tries to guess who’s card they have.

Those who guess theirs correctly could win a prize. You could also do round 2 for those who guessed correctly.

We hope that you have fun with it.  We’d love to hear how it goes!

 

 

 

 

GMO Field Trip: Let’s Follow the Life of a GMO

GMOs

GMO Field Trip: Let’s follow the life of a GMO

The fifth & final post in the blog series GMOs: What’s the Big Deal? by Oh Baby Foods Mother & Founder, Fran B. Free

In finalizing our blog series on GMOs, I aim to wrap-up insight into the little acronym & why it evokes strong feelings (of something) for just about everyone. Again, some believe GMOs are harmless & necessary, others believe they are unsafe, unproven & find the act of messing with DNA terrifying.

In last week’s post, I discussed the political landscape of GMOs, which is so volatile that it has probably changed since that post. I’m here again this week & this time for a field trip. Let’s follow the life of the most popular of GMOs: the illustrious soybean.

It’s no secret that I was raised on a conventional farm & my family still runs that farm; conventionally. Growing up around conventional crops & GMOs encouraged me to pursue my bachelor’s degree in Environmental Soil & Water Science and following, my master’s degree in Agricultural Economics. Oh Baby’s foundation of US grown, non-GMO, organic attributes is a direct result of my early years in ag.

Now, let’s embark on that field trip. Let’s talk about why we’re following the soybean today & why it was chosen to be developed. We’ll then see how it’s planted, how it grows, how it’s harvested, sold, & consumed. Ready? Okay.

Why should we follow the soybean today?

This little legume represents over ½ of all GM acreage planted. USDA ERS records show that 94% of all 2014 soy acreage planted in the US is GM. (USDA ERS)

Why was this crop developed?

Obviously, soy is an important crop for US growers. It is mostly grown for animal production, also for food processing aids, & a little for direct consumption. The USDA states that herbicide-tolerant (HT) crops, such as the soybean, were “developed to survive application of specific herbicides that previously would have destroyed the crop along with the targeted weeds, provide farmers with a broader variety of options for effective weed control.” (USDA ERS)

The reason & goal, ultimately, is efficiency. Because farmers aren’t confined to mechanical tillage to control emerging weeds, they can now plant rows closer together (getting a better yield/acre) & save time by a broad application of Roundup (via aerial spray, for example) without worrying about killing their beans with herbicide…because remember, these beans are now HT: herbicide resistant.

Now, how does this work?

Monsanto developed the technology for glyphosate herbicides like Roundup in 1970 &, by 2007, glyphosate was the most used herbicide in the US agricultural sector. Popular stuff, right? So, why not develop this product further; integrate it? They did & here’s how.

Enter: Roundup Ready Soybean. Monsanto developed this seed, owns the technology patent & broadly leases licensing rights to other seed companies. As of 2009, the Roundup family represented over 50% of Monsanto’s business (Monsanto). A farmer may purchase the seed from another brand, but ultimately, they’re buying it from Monsanto.

Okay, here we go on our field trip, step by step:

(1) So, the farmer buys the seed. In order to do this, he/she also takes two additional MANDATORY steps: (1) buy Roundup (yes, mandatory) & (2) sign a user agreement that states they will not save seed from the crop, use in other ways not permissible as seen by Monsanto, etc. Side note: Monsanto has tried to legally put on the market their “terminator” technology, which would cause sterile seed to ensure the farmer doesn’t save viable seed, but they are yet to convince the courts. Hence, seed currently spreads into the wild, and also into fields of nonGMO-planted crops. Monsanto has successfully sued farmers whose fields have these “fly away” seeds, even though they did not plant them. Google it; there are lots of cases out there. Crazy, I know.

(2) The farmer then plants to seed.

(3) Once the seedlings emerge, so do weeds. That’s normal and natural. Side note: an acre of soil contains millions of “weed” seeds that are just waiting for the right conditions. Opportunists, those little weeds.

(4) The farmer sprays the field, killing the weeds, but not the soy seedlings. This gives the crop enough of a head start to grow & shade out most new weed growth.

(5) The remainder of the field life of that bean is basically the same as conventionally-grown, non-GMO, non-organic soy. The farmer cares for the plants, give them water, synthetic fertilizer, monitors for insects, sprays a defoliant before harvest, etc.

(6) The beans are harvested & sent to either a dryer/storage (with pest control, of course) grain broker, processor, etc.

(7) It eventually goes to market & gets consumed either by (1) animals, in the form of feed (pre-steak or bacon for people), or (2) by humans, directly (there are TONS of processed foods on the shelves with soy lecithins and proteins).

You know that free edamame that’s offered with your sushi lunch? Skip it. You’ve got a 94% chance that edamame is GM, has new-to-humans proteins & lecithins (sorry, no time to go into all that in this post) & has seen at least three or so applications of pesticide.

& that, in a nut shell, is how it works.

Thank you again for following these posts this month during Non-GMO Month. I’ve enjoyed dedicating time to look over new & emerging topics in the GM world, and taking time to write, something that I normally don’t get to do. Now, I’ve got to get back to the kitchen to develop new & exciting GMO-free products for your baby & your growing family.

Did you miss any of the posts this moth on GMOs: What’s the Big Deal? It’s okay, they’re still here:

Friday, 10/3/2014       GMOs: It’s Personal
Friday, 10/10/2014     GMOs: The What, the How, the Why
Friday, 10/17/2014     GMOs: Environmental & Health Concerns
Friday, 10/24/2014     GMOs: Political Landscape
Friday, 10/31/2014     GMO Field Trip: Let’s follow the life of a GMO

Until next time,
Fran B. Free

 

Sources:

USDA ERS – Adoption of Genetically Engineered Crops in the U.S.: Recent Trends in GE Adoption. (2014, June 14). Retrieved October 29, 2014, from http://www.ers.usda.gov/data-products/adoption-of-genetically-engineered-crops-in-the-us/recent-trends-in-ge-adoption.asp

GM crops: Top ten facts and figures. (2014, June 2). Retrieved October 29, 2014, from http://knowledge.allianz.com/environment/food_water/?500/gm-crops-facts-and-figures

Monsanto. (2014, October 30). Retrieved October 31, 2014, from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Monsanto